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How to be like St. Joseph in a noisy world

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As 504 men shuffled through a hallway to get to Mass, they passed by a sign taped to a bulletin board.

“Like Saint Joseph, actions not words!”

Though few paid the sign much notice, its message dovetailed well with the words those men spent much of Saturday morning hearing.

These men spent much of their day March 7 examining the life of the earthly father of Jesus as part of the annual diocesan men’s conference.

The conference just happened to be held at the church in Herndon that shares his name.

The theme of the conference, “Noble and Bold: Taking a Cue from Saint Joseph,” was much milder than past years, which encouraged “marked men” to “gird for battle,” among other spiritual-warfare themes.

Perhaps that’s only fitting for a conference dedicated to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus who is never once quoted in sacred Scripture.

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged people to allow themselves to become “infected” by St. Joseph’s silence, “in a world that is often too noisy.”

“St. Joseph is a man of silence ­— a real contemplative who pondered things deeply within,” said Father Roger Landry, one of the keynote speakers at the conference. Landry is a papal attache for the Holy See’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations, as well as a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass.

“His silence has its own special eloquence,” he said. “It reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man.”

In two talks, Father Landry talked about “going to Joseph with manly devotion” and “learning from Joseph how to guide, protect and provide.”

Men were encouraged to consecrate themselves to St. Joseph, who has “never been known to let us down,” Father Landry said.

“If we do so, he will not turn a deaf ear,” he said. “He can lead us through this life to become real men of God, who love Jesus, who love Mary, who love the church and who love others.”

Mark Miravalle, a professor of theology and the St. John Paul II Chair of Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, also spoke on St. Joseph as a spiritual father.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of St. Joseph as the patron of the universal church.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for the group and delivered a homily encouraging men to be steadfast in their faith, especially when they meet resistance or fail.

“To be noble and bold in living out our Catholic faith is not easy — not in a world that in so many ways rejects our Gospel values,” he said. “As you come forward today to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and with the intercession of St. Joseph, ask specifically for those gifts of courage and forgiveness, so that you leave here today a new man, strengthened in your resolve to be noble and bold.”

 

 

John Siniff, a parishioner of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, said attending the conference gave him “spiritual enrichment” as well as “the strength I need to be a better man, a better father, a better husband and a better Catholic.”

“The conference is a mirror on yourself,” he said. “In those moments of solitude, God asks us to look within. Knowing there are other people who are not only walking similar paths but are trying to walk the path God intends for you, there’s strength in numbers and strength in understanding that we all have our weaknesses. Part of this journey is finding the path that ultimately gives you a path to God and ultimately guiding your family to that same path.”

This was Melvin Ablaza’s third year attending the men’s conference.

Ablaza, a parishioner of Corpus Christi Church in South Riding, said he “really enjoyed” the event.

“As a married man and as a father, it’s very important for us to have a leadership role in our household — to act as the priest of the household,” he said. “St. Joseph is a perfect example of who we should follow.”

The diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life has sponsored an annual men’s conference since 2010. At its peak in 2015, the conference was attended by 1,100 men.

Past conferences have featured high-profile speakers such as then-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the internet-famous Father Mike Schmitz and EWTN radio host Father Larry Richards.

The 12th annual men’s conference has been scheduled for March 6, 2021, also at St. Joseph Church in Herndon.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020